January 12, 2023

cooker/baker/and all-things maker until there's too much talkie-talkie: Christmas blunders (part 1)

* first off, thanks for joining me on a Thursday. Fun fact - I used to post M, W, F - then I eliminated the Friday, but dang - Wed comes up real fast after a Monday, in case you weren't aware*

Christmas blunders include, but are not limited to . . . 

On Dec. 23rd, I made green bean casserole to feed an army for my-side party. I make it in the crockpot so that it'll be easy and I don't have to tie up an oven. I decided to make it with real, actual, delicious flour for the majority of the people, because I KNOW that GF flour tastes weird. 

Then, I made a small GF version for Ann, who also has celiac, and I. 

Well, the kids were all standing in the kitchen. It was the usual conversation of who is going to go grab what at the grocery store. Ed was my regular shopper, and he should probably be privy to more of an inheritance as a result. He answered texts mid-shopping stream and called to ask about substitutes, etc. He's a prince. 

There was lots of talk about who was going to go workout and where. 

*There are two places we workout since the high-end health club that we get for free because of Coach's clinic's affiliation remodeled during the pandemic and eliminated their basketball court WITHOUT CONSULTING US, if you can imagine.*

Unrelated, because I didn't 'blunder'
the haircuts (thank goodness),
but I cut Reg, Ed, Tank, and
 Coach's hair on Dec. 23rd - just in
 case you thought ALL I did
 was cook prior to Christmas.
*Tank goofing with his long-ass hair,
parting it to make me laugh
and Ed waiting in the hot seat.
Who would they drive and when, and would it suffice for me, the cooker/baker/and all-things maker (I want this on a t-shirt), to get the needed grocery supplies after a workout, or were supplies needed before the workouts? These workouts involve shuttling Reg to his gym of choice, since he now has a membership to LA Fitness, which we joined to compensate for the loss of the b-ball court at the other place. His pass includes 2 guests to LA for free and he often takes Curly and they shoot around. LA is down the street from the high-end place, which is in the same building where Coach works.

Life is sometimes complicated, but I'm guessing you already knew that.

You're updated on our workout locations, so moving the conversation back in the kitchen with the sweet and sour green bean casserole. The boys were leaving and I looked down and realized that I'd put GF-foul-tasting flour in the big vat-o-non-GF green beans. Damn. 

I'd already prepared the baby-sized portion for Ann and I. I did it first because I've been known to get in auto-mode and throw all of the green beans into the big vat and forget to save some for my GF baby-sized dish. I hate auto-mode, but since I'd had covid I was playing catch up. I screwed up. 

I did my best to scoop the GF flour out but it was on top of the mountain of bacon pieces. I wiped most of the pieces of bacon off on paper towels before adding the bacon back in and then adding 'real' flour. It wasn't pretty, I mean unless you like to clean flour off of bacon. 

I could not figure out
what this was a photo
 of the other day. Oh, it's
bacon after I 'cleaned' it.

On Christmas I forgot to put my miniature sized GF beans in the oven until it was almost time to eat. 40 minutes later when I took a bite, I realized I'd forgotten to add sugar. Fortunately Ann and I were the only ones impacted. 

What on earth is my problem though? I tossed a cup of sugar in the leftovers later. Insert me humming:  IF I ONLY HAD A BRAIN. 

Later when I made a new-to-me dessert (pumpkin chiffon pie that my mom usually makes), I opted to do so when all the kids were out with friends late at night. No talkie-talkie to distract wacky-wacky me. 

The next day was Christmas Eve. I shared the Christmas menu with the kids, or more importantly I pointed out that I wasn't serving rice broccoli casserole. Or Jello. Or dinner rolls. Civil rest ensued.

They almost stuffed me up the chimney and asked Santa for a new 2.0 version of me. 

I can't believe I almost
skipped the jello (mixed with
 vanilla ice cream) - and look
 at how wonderfully I got it centered
on this Christmas plate. 
On Christmas morning I made Apple Puff Pancake and an egg casserole that I'd prepped in advance. While I made the apple puff (labor intensive), Coach ran to the little grocer that was open, grabbing what I needed to make rice broccoli, jello mold, and dinner rolls. And all was right with the world. *He'd insisted that I NOT do my usual big breakfast spread, but I really didn't want to skip it - the kids LOVE that  tradition. 

This explains why Santa didn't deliver gifts until 11:55 am. In order to stuff the stockings, I ordered the crew out of the family room for a few. I have a funny story about a stocking stuffer, but it'll have to wait. I've written and rotated out SEVERAL endings to this post- trying not to make it book-length. So . . . 

A small tree and a small stash of gifts. 
I'd like to thank covid for limiting panic shopping/ unnecessary last minute purchases, and for gifting me time to wrap/organize gifts. Most get wrapped at Von Maur, where I shop, for free, but there's always more. I wrapped on my last quarantine day, also known as the day before I walked downstairs and faced THE MESS left by my people. 

I put all the gifts in an empty pack-n-play crib in my room. (thought I took a pic of this, but didn't)

Mini came in and saw the pack-n-play:  OH, WOW. YOU ALWAYS TELL US, "YOU'RE NOT GETTING MUCH THIS YEAR. YOU DON'T NEED ANYTHING." THEN WE GET A TON. I GUESS THIS YEAR YOU MEANT IT. *she wasn't complaining, just laughing.

Can you bake or cook when people talk to you, or does conversation screw you up? Do you buy more than you mean to buy/panic shop/struggle to keep things even? Did Santa show up on time at your place? 


Eli said...

It is so hard to get the gifts even, when all the kids want different things that have different physical sizes and monetary values!

I also prefer to do the cooking/baking/making without people there to distract me... But come time for cleanup, I'm usually ready for company.

Nance said...

Kids really hang on to all the things that make holidays traditional for them. Mine are in their thirties, and they're the same. As time has gone on, some things have necessarily had to change, but we hung on to as many as we could for as long as we could, but we've added new, simpler ones to replace the older, worky ones.

Nicole said...

Wow, that is so much cooking! I don't mind when people talk to me when I cook, but then, I'm not cooking for an army like you!

Jenny in WV said...

Your Jello ring on the Christmas plate is beautiful!
You make your Green Bean Casserole from scratch?!? It never occurred to me that there is a way to make it other than canned green beans, Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup and maybe if your feeling fancy french-fried onions.
Santa was a little late this year, because we went to church Christmas morning.

Suzanne said...

Conversation totally screws me up! I would have screwed up the beans in exactly the same way. And you are so nice to do the foods the kids wanted even though you planned not to. It's hard to buck tradition, I guess!

Busy Bee Suz said...

"cooker/baker/and all-things maker" What size Tshirt do you need? LOL

You amaze me! I can't bake or follow a recipe for sh*t even if I'm entirely alone, much less with people distracting me.

The jello ring looks lovely. Laughing at you cleaning bacon!

I'm glad you came to your senses after Civil Rest Ensued....some traditions you've got to keep. Or else.

Amy said...

We try to spend around the same amount per kid and have the same number of gifts for them to open....that's about as even as we can make it. It's so hard though! As for baking/cooking when people are talking to me, it depends on if it's an old recipe or new one - if it's something I've made a million times before, conversation is no problem. But I need to focus if it's a new recipe.

Kara said...

I have always tried to have an equal amount of THINGS to open per kid. But this year, it didn't happen. The youngest doesn't work yet, and needed/wanted cheaper things than her sisters. Things like books and sweatpants, not $150 pairs of shoes. So yeah, the youngest got at least twice as many THINGS to open.

Cheryl said...

You make me lol. All I can imagine, on the daily, is a million rubber balls, bouncing over your head, juggling in the air, until one small glitch happens, and they all start falling and bopping you in the head! Ouchie!

How do you do it and stay sane? Plus, what the heck are you gonna do, once they are grown and out of the house? You are going to be totally bored for sure! Grand kids may be the answer! You never know! And, you can always insist on weekly Sunday dinners, right? Kinda like that show, Blue Bloods.

I do not like anyone talking to me as I cook. No body! I reread that recipe over and over again and mentally check off (in order) whatever I have used. I'm a weirdo, I know. I don't even want my husband talking to me while I cook.

My mom did all the Christmas shopping, actually ALL shopping. She was a deli manager at Wegmans and grocery shopped on her lunch hour.

Dad knew how to "make" the kids, but was clueless on how take care of them. In his defense, as he aged and after mom passed, he was able to relate to the adult "us".

Mistakes are bound to happen with so many people all clustered together. Many times, during the Christmas morning "opening up the the gifts", mom would watch as each gift was unwrapped. Being tired and overwhelmed, and understaffed, she sometimes put the wrong name on a tag, bought the wrong size, color, etc. Trying to make sure 7 kids were all treated equally was also a challenge. But, mom did good. Poor Santa got blamed every year.

You know, in spite of how some of my family members have turned into big a&%holes, I wouldn't change a thing about my growing up years. 9 people in an old 1800's farmhouse. (I actually found, in the cellar, used as wall insulation, old newspaper pages printed during Lincoln's assassination, no lie! I was the hit of show and tell at school that day!)That house had one bathroom (added years later) that had paneled walls that you couldn't get wet (someone was thinking ahead, not!)So, no shower, just a bath. But we survived. Now it's the husband and me and 2.5 bathrooms. Yippee!

Oh, and green bean casserole? Yuckity yuck yuck! We would have potluck at my job several times a year, and this one guy (Glen) made it and brought it every time. Glen, was a nose picker...just sayin'. But I wouldn't say that jello mold! :)

mbmom11 said...

Every time I try to shop ahead, I wind up going last minute shopping with random inspiration. So I probably should forget about being efficient and just buying on Dec 23.
One son got 2 presents this year, but I had just bought him 5 pairs of pants, so he didn't mind. The younger ones are the ones that need quantity not quality.

Ernie said...

Eli - It was farily easy when they were youngsters as they often each got a lego or a similar toy. Fortunately they are of an age now that they tend to know that a little varition between them is OK. Mini likes to shop, for example. So she scores many wardrobe items when we are out and about.

Yes, many people helping clean up is necessary.

Ernie said...

Nance - My kids voted that they should no longer have to march down the stairs Christmas morning in age order, waving at the video camera. I had no problem doing away with that. Food- they always want the favs.

Ernie said...

Nicole - I don't think it is that I cook for a lot, I think the mistakes crop up when I am thinking of all the things and then talking. I can't count out scoops or cups of things while all of that is happening.

Ernie said...

Jenny - I struggle to get jello out of the molds, so when this one popped out and landed perfectly on the plate, I celebrated.

My green bean dish is a sweet and sour green bean casserole. There is no mushroom soup involved. It has bacon and mustard and sugar and FLOUR. It's delish. Not a fan of mushrooms here.

Ernie said...

Suzanne- I was glad that I mentioned the menu the night before. I wasn't aware they'd have strong feelings about what I was serving. I was lucky that Coach agreed to run to the store, because he was of the mindset that I was doing too much and that the kids would get over it.

Ernie said...

Suz - It does have a nice ring to it, right? I think a medium will do. ;)

Civil unrest indeed. The moaning from the table. I broke my back with the desserts, and I figured we had enough casseroles on the list - but no siree. The breakfast was another bonus for my gang. We never did that when I was growing up. I stumbled on this apple puff pancake recipe and the kids go crazy for it.

The kids make fun of me because if I'm counting out cups, I get louder and louder to drown them out. It is supposed to signal them to zip it.

I'm not the best at cleaning house, adding bacon to my list of cleaning tasks? Just silly.

Ernie said...

Amy - I try to keep the piles even, or I did when they were younger. It was easier back then. Nowadays they have different needs. Reg wears a TON of hand me downs and after a while a kid needs his own dang wardrobe items. Last year they were done unwrapping and Reg's pile was still towering. I'd warned them all, and they all agreed - anything to get him to stop wearing the SAME Cobra Kai sweatshirt. (which wasn't a hand me down, but an indiacation that he needed more to choose from)

Ernie said...

Kara - If Santa is bringing $150 shoes, I want to come live in your house. ;) Yep, the plane ticket cost was significant. I did a decent job of sticking to my YOU'RE NOT GETTING A LOT, but I did spend a bundle on Mini's wardrobe over fall break. She'd figured out what she needed/wanted for college by then.

Ernie said...

Cheryl - I like your million-rubber-balls comparison. So true. Once one thing caves, it can become a bit of a mess over here.

I will have PLENTY to do once the kids have moved out. There will be visits and lunches and Coach and I will travel and I will be penning my 3rd book by then. I hope to get the home movies up to date. I have projects and I'm OK chilling out too. Grandkids - that will be a fun piece of the equation.

I do all of the shopping too, and I"ve made a mistake here and there. Your house sounds quite relatable, accept for the cool show and tell - what on earth? Those old newspapers, what a find.

Oh, Glen. I will defend my green bean casserole to the end. It isn't the same one that most people make. It's a sweet and sour green bean casserole and it is quite popular with our crowd. It goes well with just about everything. It's great to make these things in advance, well - so long as you pay attention.

Ernie said...

mbmom - I am the same. If I try to shop ahead, I forget what I have stowed away in my closet. Then I buy more stuff and the night before my chin drops as I pull it all out. I was pretty weak with the stocking stuffers this year - a funny gift that we all enjoyed and a prayer book, but otherwise not much else.

Bibliomama said...

I don't like to cook every day, so I'm frequently cooking/baking several things at once, and I'm always terrified things are going to go horribly wrong. They do, but not as often as they could.

Ernie said...

Ali - 'horribly wrong' cracked me up. I once made this same green bean casserole for a party and my kids ran up to me to say something was VERY wrong with it. I'd left out the sugar then. I quickly stirred in a bunch of sugar, but DUH. You'd think if I'd made this mistake before that I'd have figured it out by now. I can't eat my baked stuff usually because of flour. If I fear that I've made a mistake I make my people try it and rely on them to tell me the truth.

Ally Bean said...

Can you bake or cook when people talk to you, or does conversation screw you up? Screws me up EVERY time

Do you buy more than you mean to buy/panic shop/struggle to keep things even? Only when it comes to having extra food around the house, not when it comes to presents

Did Santa show up on time at your place? Santa skips our house every year and we're okay with that

Ernie said...

Ally - I'm glad I'm not alone. My easily distracted business is getting worse the older I get, or maybe the louder/more conversational my kids get.

If I start to do a better job of tracking what I buy, then maybe I won't have a panic shopping spree when I suddenly feel like someone is getting less than expected.

I'm laughing that Santa skips you. One less person to bake for at least.